Thread: The Mere Tide
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Old 04-04-2018, 07:39 PM
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bluewpc (Offline)
The Next Bard
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Big update tonight. There may be some autobiography in this

Heading back to her room the child was gived pause by a suggestion of salmon for supper. She bethought this a good long moment and with brow not unfurrowed and weighing her answer declared sagely at last: Salmon is a fish.

The pilot's ears swooped straight up and she gave a vexed little look hard to interpret. Lets hope so.

Well ifn ye has a salmon.

Not yet.

Well when ye hassa salmon.

We can go get the salmon.

Aint goin no fuckin place again.

What needs have we to barter with a fishmonger?


Wherefore aught we travel to market?


We dont have to buy the damn fish.

What then?

The lake.

Dachni flapped her arms in strange outrage and her beer slipped away out her fingers and caromed off the wall and down through her grabbing mitts to thunk her in the head and shatter on the floor. Dachni flattened in a loud meep and then the pilot was hovering over her.

Are you ok?

Yer a terrible person!

Lets go fishing.

Ets freezing outside.

I dont disagree, said the pilot toeing the dripping shards of glass into a pile. But we can make a fire outside.

Hopstepping into new underwear she was surprised to find Anaya in her doorway.

I have something for you before we go.

Dachni popped her head through the shirt hole.


She unfurled a wolf pelt parka. Arrived yesterday.

The parka was four sizes too big but the body could be tightened by straps and the sleeves pinned back. And then trousers. Moreover in excess but with leggings that could be eversed and buttoned to the knees. Anaya helped her into it.

Youre a proper little Eskimo.

Hats an Essimo?

The pilot pulled up her hood and scrunched up the child with playful scritchings of her side followed by a barrage of kisses and licks.

You are a precious wonder.

The sun squatting on the horizon shimmered like smelted nickel. No clouds anywhere. Dachni snuffled and looked about. Everything wearing a coat of snow. It was her first outing since Kilcock and she flapped her arms worriedly like an obese penguin.

Less go back.

Did you forget something?




Come on. No one's going to hurt you.

The pilot carried a pair of poles and reels and a plastic tacklebox and for a moment as they crossed the road into the woods she seemed like one under consignment as though replaying an act from long ago. They came through the slender birches. Dachni keeping under the lee of the pilot and giving fearful study to the road, to the paths to Matraple.

The lake was sealed over with a plate of ice that looked to have been platinized.

Caint fish now.

Ice fishing, said the pilot.

Dachni cocked her head. Thats stupid.


She pinched up the hook dangling off the fishing line as though it were the underpinning of her logic. Fish dont live in ice.

The pilot seemed unperturbed by this news. She went on. The beach was blown over with dead branches. She swept the pier steps clean of snow that Dachni could cane after. Ice had locked the wooden pillars in place. Farther out on the lake was a green pontoon buffed up on the ice. At the end of the pier Dachni lay on her belly and felt the ice. As armor. Opaque.

Fish dont freeze up in the fish, she said. Dont keep in ince. Dont freeze in ice.

The pilot laid out the poles and the tackle box and ice chest and went back to the woods. Dachni watched her pick up a stone maybe a hundred pounds and bring it back to the end of the pier and heft it over her head and sent it shooting down. The ice gave in a bone crunch and cracks webbed instantly through the plate and a fat uvula of water coughed out of the hole. The pilot sat down beside her.

Now what?

Now to enter into the tutelage of the profession of the fishery. Lo the minnow hunter does in time harpoon the whale. The pilot showed her how to mount the reel to the rod and thread the guides. She didnt have bobbers just j-hooks and she impaled nightcrawlers upon their points. She showed the proper method of casting and they tried this a few times, letting the hooks land on the ice and then reeling them in.

But for us we just want to let the hooks into the hole and thats it.

Are they fish down there?

Sure. Theyve seeded everything bigger than a pond in this region.

Seeds? Ye mean theyres off trees?


Aye. Ye means they just plop offa trees? In the fall.

No. Yes. Yes they do. Not all of course. They grow on oaks, birches. Salmon do anyways. Of course each tree gives it own kind of fish.

What does them gives?

Birches give koi. Those pines? Theyll drop mackerels. We might even get some catfish from the cottonwoods upstream.


Learn something new every day.


Dachni looked down into the hole. There they is.

Fat carp with silver bodies and flares of crimson or orange patterning their torsos. Smooth and torsioning right by the hooks.

Is they fruit or veggies?


Well ye wouldnt think em to get no riper. Does they turn back into trees?

Not until after a long time.

How does ye get up?

The worm acts a lure and when they bite it they bite the hook.

They aint bitin. No! No hes nibblin.

A barrel of black splotched carp picked at the worm. She gave a tentative tug on the reel and it darted away and came back. It got its full fish lips on the dangling end of the worm and with a rolling pull twisted it off the hook with a final taunting flag of the caudal.

Dachni reeled in the line and frowned at the hook. Son of a bitch.

The pilot muttered to herself.


He would give them a better brain.


Never mind.

They rebaited their lines but the fish kept plucking them off and the pilot in mild agitation leaned off the pier and dipping her foot slowly into the water snatched out the most wiliest thief in a spasm of motion. Her talons cupped its belly and tossed it up and she snatched it from the air.

For thy sins I condemn to the hell thou callest pan and thy cousins to the boiling lake of peanut oil.

Dachni eyed her. Now what?

Lets get the rest.

Doesin ye still wanta use these lines?

Lets try.

They rewormed their hooks and let them down but the fish slithered oily by like stubby fangless snakes and they werent even picking anymore.

This is pretter boring.

I thought it might be more interesting myself.

Dachni studied the hole. She thought she saw something but she didnt know what.

What does ye see?

In what?

In the hole?

What do you see?

Buncha fuckin fish. What does ya?

The pilot wedged between the boards and leaned forward. I see, she began, two worlds unintermediated bordered by the supremacy of their own element. And what then of heaven? But theres air in water and water in air. Tis strange. We came also of water. Examine the simplest species of the ocean. They dont see, they dont hear, they dont breathe. They cannot choose. But sometimes I wonder if maybe they have some incipient will. If choice is embedded in something deeper for which the nervous system is merely the vehicle of its expression. Choice so far is we can tell is an aberration. But we were once as these. So they too have the potential. If we disappear tomorrow it may be that a sire of one of these will thousands of millennia from now take the first peremptory crawl from these waters. How strange would it be and then to be more fond of the strangeness. To transition from a floating world to the realm of gravity and rain and wind and stars. Maybe thats why birds arose, to regain some semblance of their primordial womb. I want to know what it was. Or what was the first. I even maybe want to say who was first. Was it only an aberration? A hardening of a cuticle. If thats really all it was. If all this was led to by the hard deterministic interplay of particles or random chaos or a simple miswrit of chemicals. Or some creature washed up on a beach with the right mutation. Either way the most of it was made. But Id like to think that it was a twang of desire in the first amoeba, some hope to escape or make things better. Its strange. The fish had to run away. He couldnt stay in the water. He had to take the water with him onto the land. He drank everyday. Everyday he drank his home and carried it with him. You cant ever leave your home Dachni. Tis why I despise these machines. Theyre pure thought. They dont carry the struggle. They carry our home. They dont drink water.

Well, said the child. Hows ye figure to kill these things?

The pilot turned and flipped open the tackle box lid and took out a bundle of short red firecrackers and slices of bread.

What are them sticks?


What do they do



They rubber banded the firecrackers to the bread and lit the long green fuses with a zippo and dropped them in. They sank mutely from the little plucks they raised, small phosphorous stars burning down the fuse. The fish gathered to pick at the bread and as they did the sudden detonations would engulf their faces and they would float sideup stunned. Dachni dropped in a salute that weighed almost an ounce. It sank towards a school and as it did the largest carp yet swam out from under the ice gap and gulped it whole.

Ya dummy ya aint sposed ta eat it.

It swam by in placid heedlessness. Anaya was already laughing. Of a sudden its middle bulged and its eyes sprung out their sockets and then its torso burst in a puff of smoky blood that when diffused saw the carp in twain like a torpedoed submarine, the tangled guts spilling and the emptied tube of its body smoking out the great breach.

The pilot looked into the icebox. I think we have enough, she said.

Other fish were closing in to feed on the destruction.

Wuh huh.

Lets go.


Dachni lingered until the fish had disappeared from sight. They packed up their things. As they were leaving the pilot stopped. She was staring ahead and then she looked up at coming overcast in the west. Dachni took her by the hand to lead her on but she set down the ice chest and lifted out the big black mottled carp and walked back to the end of the pier and let it back into the water.

At home they set about cleaning the fish. A little disassembly line. Dachni docking and decapitating with a cleaver and passing the dripping catches on to the pilot. Who would make an incision at the anterior amputation, working her knife just under the dermis to remove the scales and then to open it up along the belly and clean the insides, removing the silver hair skeleton.

Dachni watched her. She was humming a melancholic melody and yet she was smiling.

Whatre ye so happy over?

The smile turned towards her. Im happy youre here. I like spending time with you.

This confession consternated the child. She looked at the headless ten pounder framed on the cutting board.

Thats ok, said the pilot. Youre smiling too.

They fried the fish. Powdering them with a dry cajun batter and then committing them like limed sailors given burial in an oily sea. That soon was brought to boil and that cracked around them. They fished out the strips as they browned and laid them in a roasting pan and let the grease absorb into the bed of paper towels. Dachni kept sneaking samples of them and never of the same strip and the pilot even while looking somehow managed by dramatic mastery to maintain the pretense that her thievery went unnoticed.

They ate in the library, warming by the fire the pilot had made. They didnt talk but the child could not keep from giggling and she scooted slyly about mulling her fish and trying forcefully to share it with the pilot, coming around her backside and feinting left or right and then darting around the other side in an attempt to insert the fish into her mouth and then when this failed she tried to bait out her wyrm so she could pet it.

Who would have guessed carp a narcotic?



Dachni scampered across the pilot's lap and off it and back on and circled and floundered heavily and began to fuss the pilot.


Do you want attention? Anaya asked scratching her belly.

Dachni squirmed squealing catlike and then her mirth suddenly faded into a grim contentment with one mouth corner drawn down. Is a lettle better today.

Its how it works doesnt it?

She squeezed her eyes shut as though in pain. It dont always.

But today it did.

She nodded. Its kinder tire though.

Lets stay awake. Youre sleeping most the day, most the night.

Ok. Whats ta do?

What would you like to do?

Has ye a drink?

Lets do something more than drink. We can have a drink but lets do something else besides. If you dont have a goal in life you just become an alcoholic.

Whats an alkaolic?

The pilot sighed heavily and turned her gaze to the painted judgment above. Im not sure Im qualified to answer that.

Is it a bad thing?

The pilot shrugged noncommittally.

Well a weewhey drinky woulnt hurt.

Thats how it starts.

The child turned crafty. Hey ye wanna bomb fish mores?

The pilot laughed. You dont think theyve had enough?

Life comes when it comes. Sides wasnt them fishies died. They aint had nothin.

Death belongs not to the dead. Let them tell their stories first.

Fishy aint no store tells.

Im sure they have something. The Tale Of Fat Murphy.

Ta whatta fuck?

Murphy was the fattest fish of Wine Lake
Also the only fish that ever spake
He homed in a clam and owned a clock
And warmed his tail in a hobo's sock

His reminiscences were (if ever asked) always of the eighteen seas
until abroad twas thought even by gulls him the gilliest gist in the gee
and with a wink to the gups
and a wink to the yups
would tell of a parapelagic octopus

But what wasnt known nor even rumored was that Murphy was on the take
That for a ten percent cut and some tuna gut
Murph made friends in the fishing trade
He assured all grub the finest cuisine
Called chum a free buffet
And his believing friends (and why wouldnt they believe) were wrapped in magazines

And in Allen's Pond theres stories told of a trout in fishy habit
Whose parish perished in a vat of cajun batter
After the pastor from his coral pulpit
Preached the hook Pisces' ladder

But when suspicion arose
Off Uncle Murphy goes
And yonder comes Mister Murph from whence who knows?

Until a day, a normal day, a winter day in Matter Lake
Mysterious Murph devising schemes
Ate a squab of cheap plastique
His entrails sank towards the bottom of the sea
But no one grieved too long
For in his standing will (executed only in the event of murder)
He invited all his friends partake
Of his mawky bulk
At his benthic wake

Dachni shut her eyes in consternation. Whubbafuck?

Lets call it the Vengeful Tale of Sinful Murph.

Fesh caint tawk.

Whats wrong with a rhyming fish?

Ifn rhymey fish then ets all goaned ta hell.

The pilot conceded with a not unserious smile. You may be right.

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